IRS Announces Tax Relief for Washington Mudslide and Flood Victims

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on Friday that it would provide tax relief benefits to victims of the flood and mudslide that took place in the state of Washington in March.

The IRS tax relief benefits include an automatic postponement of tax filing and payment deadlines after March 22.  The postponement allows individuals and businesses until October 15, 2014, to file tax returns and pay any associated tax liability due.

For individuals, the extended dates include the federal income tax filing and payment date of April 15; the April 15 cutoff for making individual retirement account contributions for the 2013 tax year; and the quarterly estimated tax payment dates on April 15, June 16, and September 15.

For businesses, the extended dates include the April 30 and July 31 due dates for filing quarterly payroll and excise taxes.

In addition, for affected individuals or businesses with a tax liability due to the IRS, the IRS will waive any interest and penalties normally associated with a late payment of those monies, so long as the individual or business pays the tax amount owed by October 15, 2014.

The IRS tax relief benefits automatically apply to individuals and businesses with addresses in the geographic area deemed affected by the mudslide.  The tax relief benefits apply to individuals and businesses located outside of the affected area in cases when records necessary to prepare tax returns were located inside the affected area.

In addition, the tax relief benefits apply to workers assisting with rescue and assistance efforts.

Those who believe they are affected by the mudslide who do not automatically qualify for tax relief benefits should contact the IRS at 866-562-5227.

The decision by the IRS to grant tax relief benefits to those affected by the mudslide and flood comes after President Obama granted Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s request to declare the affected area of Snohomish County a federal disaster area.

The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist victims of a disaster when the circumstances are beyond what local and state emergency response teams can provide.  Programs for mudslide victims include temporary housing for up to 18 months for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed; grants to cover medical, funeral, and other expenses not otherwise addressed by insurance; unemployment benefits for those whose places of work were destroyed and who do not otherwise qualify for unemployment; and counseling services.

Effect of Mudslide Still Growing as Rescue Efforts Continue

The mudslide took place on the morning of March 22, four miles east of the town of Oso, Washington.  The mudslide covered an area of one square mile.  Experts believe heavy rains that had saturated the area for over a month ultimately dislodged a large section of a hillside.

Emergency management teams believe the mudslide damaged or destroyed approximately 50 homes or other structures.  Damage estimates from the mudslide have topped $10 million.  The cost of the rescue effort has now exceeded $30 million.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner has confirmed 30 deaths because of the mudslide.  Another 13 individuals are still missing.

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by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.